Gluten is simply the protein part of wheat, rye, barley, and other related grains. Some people cannot tolerate gluten when it comes in contact with the small intestine. This condition is known as celiac disease. There is also evidence that a skin disorder called dermatitis herpetiformis is associated with gluten intolerance.
In patients with celiac disease, gluten injures the lining of the small intestine. This injury results in weight loss, bloating, diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramps, or vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When patients totally eliminate gluten from the diet, the lining of the intestine has a chance to heal.
In patients with gluten intolerance or gluten allergy, the symptoms are varied and also respond well to the reduction, severe limiting or removal of gluten from the diet.
Removing gluten from the diet is not easy. Grains are used in the preparation of many foods. It is often hard to tell by an ingredient’s name what may be in it, so it is easy to eat gluten without even knowing it. However, staying on a strict gluten-free diet can dramatically improve the patient’s condition. Since it is necessary to remain on the gluten-free diet throughout life, it will be helpful to review the diet with a registered dietitian.
What about Oats?
Oats deserve special attention and mention. Oats are believed to be safe for patients with celiac disease, although this was not always the case. The problem with oat products lies not in the grain but in the manufacturing process. When oats are processed in the same facilities as wheat, CROSS-contamination can occur even with the best cleaning protocol. Oat products can now be found that are not cross contaminated. These may be tried after an initial period of six months to see if they can be tolerated. Most, but not all, patients are able to tolerate pure oat products.
A Gluten-Free Life Diet and Lifestyle!
Eating a gluten-free diet can be a gradual process of learning, though some people simply have sufficient nutritional or cooking experience and have acquired enough knowledge to make a rapid transition. If you are diagnosed as celiac or gluten intolerant, it will most likely be recommended for your overall health and well-being that you make a change in diet as quickly as possible. The transition may be a bit of a learning process, yet once it is acquired, there will be a welcome improvement in health.
Gluten-Free References and Resources
There are many good people, companies, and Internet resources to help keep us well informed. Here are a few of my favorites that are concerned with celiac disease, gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity.
Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University
The Food Allergy Network
American Celiac Society
P.O. Box 23455
New Orleans, LA 70183-0455
Celiac Sprue Association/USA, Inc.
Celiac Disease Foundation
Gluten Intolerance Group of North America
31214 124th Ave SE
Auburn, WA 98092-3667
4927 Sonoma Hwy., Ste C1
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
Kids with Food Allergies, Inc.
Food Allergy Initiative
American Celiac Disease Alliance
National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)
Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program
Gluten-Free Restaurant Guide:
Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland
in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Alessio Fasano is the medical director
The Biocard Celiac Test Kit
The Biocard(TM) Celiac Test Kit is currently available in Canada at London Drugs, Rexall Pharma Plus, and other major Canadian retail chains. More information can be found at www.celiachometest.comThe test kit is currently awaiting approval for U.S. Distribution.